By Jennifer Higgins
If my dogs could talk, I’m sure one of the first things they would say to me would be, “Mom! Please leave our eyes alone!”
Yes, I am that pet owner who insists on plucking or pinching out the debris from the corner of my dogs’ eyes because I am certain that they must be as bothered by it as I would be if I were them. Since it is the pet owner to whom we are marketing pet care products, if they didn’t think eye care and pet appearance is a problem, there probably wouldn’t be any need for eye care products.
The fact remains that caring for a pet’s eyes is, indeed, an important part of tending to their overall health and well-being and, like so many other pet care products—especially those that enhance a pet’s health—efficacy, quality “ingredients” and presentation are key. Furthermore, documentation of the science behind these products can only add to their reliability.
Tracks of Their Tears
Appropriately named “tear stains,” the reddish-brown lines that begin at the corner of a cat or dog’s eyes and extend down along the side of the base of their muzzle, appear on certain breeds more than others and even more so if the coat color is white. Included in these breeds are Pekingese, Shih-Tzu, Maltese, and pug—all breeds that have short noses and/or shallow eye sockets. Other facial features or issues that cause or exacerbate tear stains are inward turned eyelids and eyelashes; growth of long hairs around the eye; and blocked tear drainage holes. The common denominators with all three of these are irritation and/or inconsistent tear production (too much or too little). Addressing the underlying cause of abnormalities in tear production or eye irritation is important, and there are products available that can help with this as well as the cosmetic aspect.
Though there are many different tear stain products on the market, only a few of them use natural ingredients. One amongst those few is Naturally Tearfree Canine tear stain removing oral supplement, imagined, created, patented and made in the USA by mother-daughter team Catherine and Stephanie Burns, who own and operate Naturally Tearfree Canine, LLC.
The two say they developed Naturally Tearfree Canine after years of struggling to keep their own pets’ faces clean and bright. They conducted extensive research in medicinal plants and alternative medicines to validate their discovery.
Constituted by a blend of natural, organic herbs that have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, Naturally Tearfree Canine balances out the PH and acidity in the saliva and tears, both of which are excretions that stain fur. The herbs used in this product are on the GRAS list (officially safe to give to a pet); have no coloring, flavoring, additives or antibiotics; and are following the FDA. Retailers should understand that Naturally Tearfree Canine does not contain Tylosin, a form of antibiotic that can cause stomach upset and health issues in dogs and is banned in some countries. Naturally Tearfree Canine comes in four-ounce and 7.5-ounce jars as well as capsules, with easy to use and understand instructions.
Another manufacturer taking the “natural” route to eliminate tear stains is NaturVet. According to Julie Miller, director of marketing, through Garmon Corp. for NaturVet, the company offers tear stain removal products in multiple forms for both cats and dogs. NaturVet’s tear stain reduction and removal products can be found in the form of powder, tablets, soft chew and topical solutions.
“The natural, active ingredients in the supplements help to support the immune system and lubricate the mucous membranes for healthy and beautiful eyes,” Miller said.
NaturVet’s Tear Stain Topical Remover is a gentle, water-based solution to help remove existing saliva and tear stains from the pet fur, “revealing beautiful and healthy eyes.”
Miller suggests that the Tear Stain Topical “is an external solution and should be used in conjunction with their internal Tear Stain Supplement to help address the staining issue from the inside out.”
“Most pet parents are not even aware that there are natural solutions to help address tear staining issues,” Miller said. However, NaturVet offers retailers an attractive Tear Stain Countertop Display that contains each of the delivery methods mentioned earlier. “The display and header are eye catching and feature a ‘before’ and ‘after’ example of tear stains.”
According to Garmon Corp., NaturVet uses “only top quality ingredients and the proper manufacturing procedures have earned them the right to display the NASC [National Animal Supplement Council] Quality Seal on their product labels.”
Here’s Mud in Your Eye
As pets rely on their humans for just about everything they need, it’s important that pet parents do their best to provide the best care they can give. Ridding a dog or cat’s eyes of tear stains is one thing, but pets have other “ocular” needs as well.
Vetericyn has eye care products that meet those other needs. Two of the company’s top sellers are the Vetericyn Eye Wash and Ophthalmic Gel. Geoff Hamby, director of marketing for Vetericyn Animal Wellness, attributes the top selling quality of these eye care products to a few factors. Hamby credits the ease with which they can be used at home as one factor and adds that they “are incredibly powerful and help clean eyes, soothe irritation and relieve allergy symptoms.”
What is often forgotten, however, is its “fantastic safety profile,” he said.
In fact, it is the First Aid advantages that make most of Vetericyn’s products unique.
Vetericyn contains synthesized hypochlorous acid (HOCl) which is naturally produced by the body’s immune system, according to Hamby. Vetericyn’s synthesized version of HOCl is “cutting edge technology that is as safe as it is effective,” he said, and Vetericyn eye care products are non-toxic, have the best scores in eye irritation testing and are produced in a facility that is FDA-cleared.
Despite its importance and safety standards met or exceeded, appropriate eye care means monitoring and mitigating minor eye ailments and issues, something with which many pet parents are not comfortable.
“Our strategy is to first educate this group to know what to look for when facing eye issues at home and allow them to take a proactive approach to keep their pet’s eyes in optimal condition using our products,” Hamby said. “Brick and mortar retailers [should] educate sales associates in this category to enhance the store experience and build trust with consumers.”
Vetericyn’s in-house design teams developed POP displays and other marketing-by-placement technology including its recently launched “Pet Wellness Center” and LCD video display end cap including with it a seven-inch screen, product video, brochures and much more. These perks serve the purpose of supporting retailers who do a great job selling their products and keeping customers happy